Will the Government change the law to help Greens and NZ First?

The Herald reports:

Changes to the MMP electoral system could be back on the table including the controversial coat-tailing provision, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has indicated.

The coat-tailing provision allows a party to dispense with the 5 per cent threshold if one of its candidates wins an electorate seat.

New Zealand First, The Progressives, United Future, Act and the Maori Party have all benefitted from the rule at various elections since MMP was introduced in 1996.

If a party does not win an electorate seat, it must win at least 5 per cent of the party vote in order to get any MPs.

Peters told TV1’s Q + A he would be open to the last MMP review being revisited.

Any significant change to the electoral system should have bipartisan support. National worked very hard to restore that convention after Labour shattered it in Government last time.

If Labour and allies push through significant changes to benefit them, then the lesson National should take from that if that they will be suckers if they don’t do the same next time. It will become US style winner takes all politics.

So I really hope Labour doesn’t push through any changes to help Greens and NZ First get back into Parliament. It will set us on a downward spiral.

Peters’ New Zealand First Party, Labour and the Greens – all in Opposition at the time – wanted to abolish coat-tailing (also known as the one electorate seat threshold.

They now make up a majority of Parliament. However they do not agree on reducing the threshold to 4 per cent. Only Labour and the Greens supported that. New Zealand First opposed lowering it at the review – and still does according to Peters.

“If you are not worth 5 per cent, you shouldn’t be in Parliament,” Peters said on Q + A.

It’s good that Peters, at this stage, hasn’t changed his view. But we should be very cautious. He is very capable of reversing policy the next day and then claiming that was his policy all along.


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